Honouring your body's needs is a key element of chronic healing – but does the need to achieve get the better of you? Here are 3 ways to put your body first.
Do you listen to your body’s signals?
I thought I'd share something I have been grappling with this week... And to be honest the last few years, in that hope that it might resonate with you too.
I’ve been on a gradual process to try and connect more deeply with my body as part of my own chronic healing journey. Years of pushing it, ignoring it’s signals and directing it with my mind and willpower didn’t plonk me in the greatest place (already familiar perhaps?) - so I know instinctively I need a very new and different approach.
The more chronic symptoms, the more challenging it can be to listen.
And that process to honour my body more feels really great and quite easy when things are going well or I feel I’m moving forward in one way or another. I can honour the little ebbs whilst still getting on with life and getting things done. I feel I balance doing with self-care really well.
But when my body starts to communicate its needs more to me (I.e. perhaps symptoms or sensations) - such as it has been doing more over the last week, this is where the challenge really kicks in.
Chronic illness and internal conflict.
I have a constant battle between listening to and honouring what I identify my body needs and giving in to the part of me that wants to constantly achieve, progress and get things done - at the expense of what my body is calling for.
This is roughly how it can go when I get up & prepare to embark on my day…
Body: I’m not feeling too energised, what I need is to ease into today, take my time, slow down, disconnect from technology.
Achiever part of me: I see, hmmmmm. But you do know that you’ve got a morning of filming for our course right?
Body: Yes but that doesn’t feel good right now
Achiever part of me: I hear you, but you also know I can’t relax until things are done…so this will help ultimately
Body: I’m not so sure, can we wait until later….
Achiever part of me: This won’t take long & remember this is our best time of day and so can’t risk waiting until later…
Body: You always do this…
Achiever part of me: Let’s get to it
Body a few hours later: I told you….
That familiar sequence of internal dialogue got me thinking about how to move towards a more regulated place where I feel able to honour my body and listen more. Here's 3 ways you can join me on that path!
3 ways to flip the script and put your body first.
1. Focus on trusting your body.
If your achiever part is getting the better of you and feeling overpowering, leaving you frustrated - trust may be the word to focus on. And by trust, I mean two way trust with your body.
Easier said than done of course when you have a memory bank full of chronic illness - so it's about starting small.
Begin by asking yourself each morning - how can I rebuild my body’s trust by 1% today? What micro actions can I take?
2. Soothe and integrate the “achiever” part of you.
How good would it feel to know you can allow your body to lead you at times, honouring and trusting that through its wisdom the right time will come in your day where it's ready to do the ‘work’, the achieving.
Moving away from that sense of needing to complete something now now out of fear that your body can’t deliver what’s needed later.
That begins with communication - soothing and interacting with that achiever part along the way.
Begin by asking what that part of you needs? Remembering that in some way it’s trying to meet a previously unmet need and that it wants the best for you. It needs to be heard and nurtured.
How you can nurture that core unmet need whilst still being kind to your body today?
3. Take small steps of self-care
It might be starting your morning more slowly, nourishing yourself with your favourite activity before doing anything else, or even taking a full self-care day as I did last week.
Finding small ways to break the cycle of achieve first, listen second - and bit by bit showing your body with actions that you honour it, that you're listening, that you are safe.
What's on your self-care menu today?
And before you go...
If you resonate with these experiences of internal conflict - during my 6 week nervous system reboot, we'll exploring how to understand your inner world & the different "parts" of you (like "the achiever") in more depth and how to lean into the wisdom of the body for healing. You can find out more and join the waitlist here.
Sending lots of love as always,